42 USC 1983 confers a right of action against a person who, under color of state law, acts to deprive the plaintiff of rights, privileges and immunites secured by the Constitution and laws. “Laws” means federal statutes, so long as those statutes unambiguously confer federal rights on individuals and enforcement under section 1983 does not conflict with a specific enforcement mechanism that Congress has provided under the statute granting those rights. Section 1983 applies to rights conferred by statutes enacted under Congress spending power as it does to any other federal statute. Nevertheless, spending power statutes do not often meet the standard of unambiguously conferring individual rights because most often the spending power statutes are enforced by federal denial of state funding rather than suits by affected individuals. In this case, however, the nursing home statute expressly and repeatedly referred to protecting the patients’ rights, and that was sufficient to show an unambiguous conferral of individual rights.